Restrictions Do Not Mean Solutions / Fernando Damaso

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The rapidly evolving subject of the “pilfering of brains and talent” is once again the order of the day here after the announcement that certain absurd regulations governing travel overseas will be overturned starting January 1 of next year, leaving it quite clear that restrictive measures will still be applied to prevent this so-called pilfering.

In reality no one is stealing either brains or talent, which simply go where they are properly valued and where those with them can realize their full potential. In the Cuban republic’s fifty-six years such theft did not exist because talented professionals such as artists, athletes, or anyone with something original to contribute to society could be successful at home without having to emigrate. When they did travel, they did so to gain knowledge or skills and returned to apply them in Cuba, as history amply demonstrates.

This defection of brains and talent and a defection in general began after January 1, 1959 when the country was incapable of providing even minimal opportunities for those with brains and talent to develop or to live comfortably alongside their family members. And so began the flight of professionals, artists and athletes, looking for new and more promising horizons, which continues to this day.

I do not believe that new restrictions on certain sectors of the population will resolve the problem. They will infringe on the rights of citizens affected by them, creating differences between those who can travel and those who cannot. It has been clearly shown that restrictions are simply there to be violated. They make defection difficult, but they do not prevent it. The intelligent thing to do would be to provide better economic, political and social conditions so that no one has to emigrate, and people could realize their personal as well as professional goals in their own country. The decision to reside in one country or another belongs to the individual citizen and not to any government. If this were not the case, then people with brains and talent who decide to emigrate because their countries lack the conditions necessary for them to fully develop, allowing them to advance and contribute to human achievement, would lose out.

October 17 2012